Christmas is the one time of year people are more open to the idea of Jesus and will even listen to songs about Him, which means, if you’re Christian, Christmas is an incredible season to share your faith. Writing that sentence I think I just heard people groaning… and I’m not sure if that’s the Christians or non Christians: (Christan) “I have to talk about my faith? Oh man.” (non Christian) “I have to listen to you talk about your faith? Oh man.” Sharing your faith can be a challenge. I know in the past I’ve struggled with ‘all or nothing’ thinking with this idea that I need to convert people right now or there’s no hope. For instance, I found as a youth pastor a lot of my Bible talks at campfires became this begging for people to accept Jesus into their lives. Even though part of me knew this was wrong, I couldn’t help but put pressure on myself to “save” everyone. But that’s not actually how it works; I’m not some kind of converting superhero: “Blam, you get Jesus. Kapow, you get Jesus. Booyah, you get double the Jesus because you’re doubly messed up.” Instead, people making a commitment of faith is a process. In the Book of Matthew Jesus talks about planting seeds (Mat 13:1-9), and that’s what we’re called to do: plant seeds. This connects to my blog from a few weeks ago on listening and how people will only listen to you, if you listen to them first. The biggest mistake when sharing your faith is to give this ‘I’m right and you’re wrong’ feel, which is the problem I’ve seen with every couple I’ve met as a marriage therapist, so it’s clearly not going to help us share our beliefs. I used to be big on debating until I was told, “You can’t argue someone into heaven.” Taking this one step further, I need to remember my job is to plant seeds for people to think about later, and not immediately convince them that I’m right and they’re wrong. Arrogance is as welcome as garlic breath delivered with spittle from a person with a cold.
I know a lot of people dread holiday parties and family get togethers, but these are actually the best things for a Christian wanting to share their faith. These are social times where we can plant seeds, and we all have relatives who could benefit from a little Jesus… and possibly a slap or two. One option is to include God in regular conversation using statements to answer questions like “How are you?” by saying something like:
- God has been good to me this year.
- This has been a tough year; I don’t know how I would’ve gotten through it without God/church.
- I’m good. I’m really happy how I was able to… (thing you did at church)
- I’m good. I’m really looking forward to… (event going to happen at church)
- I’m great. I got to sing Christmas carols at church all month.
The purpose of these statements is to bring God up. The odds are the other person won’t engage in a conversation with you about Him, but it helps reinforce our belief that God is involved in our lives, and reminds us to be on Godly behavior. What I find more beneficial, however, is a good conversation about something deeper, which needs to be started with a question. Questions are helpful because it gives the other person a chance to think and be heard. By you listening it opens the potential for the other person listening to you, or if nothing else, at least it makes them think about something important besides all the superficial stuff we get caught up with in life. I find most people are fine with God, but too busy to really think about Him. That being said, questions that can be conversations starters need to be done at the right time and not forced because they can just make us look weird (guy) “Hi how are you? What’s the meaning of life?” (other person) “Um, I need to talk to someone else.” The following questions should only be asked when there’s a sense of safety between you and the other person. Examples of deeper questions include:
- Tiny Tim says, “God bless us, everyone,” but what does God blessing us mean?
- If Christians were more loving like Will Ferrell in Elf, would more people want to be Christian or think we’re crazy?
- I was recently told Christians treat God like Santa Claus; what do you think?
- I recently learned that X stands for Christ so Xmas is still Christmas despite some “Xians” saying Xmas takes Christ out of Christmas. Makes me wonder about other things we’re wrong about. What do you think?
- While shopping I saw a guy on the street corner yelling to people without Jesus they’re going to hell. Does this seem very loving and Christian to you?
- My pastor recently said (thing), but I’m not sure if I agree. (Not agreeing with the pastor shows you think for yourself, which can open others up to talk to you). What do you think?
- If America is a Christian nation, how should they actually be acting?
- I was recently told life is meaningless, a chasing after the wind, (Ecclesiastes), and this is supposed to give me hope because stress is essentially pointless. What do you think?
- I recently saw the movie Hacksaw Ridge; is it ever appropriate for Christians to kill people when they’re called to love their enemy?
- Why does God allow Christians to suffer while some really bad people are rich and powerful?
- Christians say ‘Jesus is the reason for the season’, but shouldn’t they think He’s the reason for every season?
- How can some of the worst people I meet say they’re Christian? Are they really Christian or am I just being judgmental by asking this?
- I was told that pain is a gift from God, but I’m not sure what to think about that. What do you think?
You’ll notice I ask some tough questions, but I don’t offer any answers. I know how I’d answer them, but that’s not important. What’s important is getting people thinking; it’s about planting a seed of ‘where does God fit?’ and ‘how does God work?’. God doesn’t care if we have the answers as much as He cares that we’re thinking about Him; after all, we’re not called to convert people in one conversation, but to plant seeds. Plus, some people prefer when you don’t have so called answers; they just like talking.
This Christmas/Xmas, may you plant some life changing seeds.
Rev Chad David, www.ChadDavid.ca, learning to love dumb people